Tuesday, 31 March 2015

11/22/63 by Stephen King

One of the things I enjoy about reading Stephen King is the connections.

King has created three fictional towns based in Maine that reappear regularly in his books - Derry, Jerusalem's Lot & Castle Rock.

Many of the characters from these towns also pop up in unexpected places.

Pennywise the Clown & Randall Flagg are two that cross our paths, one way or another in almost every story.

And it's not just the main characters - neighbours, pharmacists, librarians & even cars tease the Kingophile into trying to remember which books they came from first.

11/22/63 has oodles of these connections to tantalise and tease, beginning with the protagonists name Jake - a name that King uses a lot in his books.

Jake's second time-travelling experience takes him back to Derry 1958 - a few short months after the murderous summer of IT.
He briefly meets young Richie Tozier & Beverly dancing in the park. They allude to the events of the summer and tell Jake that they know he is one of the good guys.

The whole time Jake is in Derry he feels the negative effects of the bad undercurrent that infuses everyone & everything. A visit to the old Kitchener Ironworks leaves Jake with a sense that something evil is lurking in the fallen chimney...all IT readers know exactly what that lurking thing is!

When Jake finally moves on to Dallas, Texas, we leave many of the familiar King haunts only to arrive in a time and place that anyone born before 1970  is intimately familiar with.

King excels at the details. The language, the songs, the cars, the clothes, the books, the shops, the references are all of their time. A nostagla effect kicks in for the time-travelling sections of the story (which is most of it!)

The writing is not beautiful, but it is evocative and it is real. The darker, grittier side of real that is. Bodily functions, dark thoughts, gross behaviours, crude speech....

11/22/63 is a page turner, like the best Stephen King's of old. The battle between good and evil is far more subtle & complex than in some of his earlier books, which makes for a richer reading experience. I can now see why this has become one of Mr Books favourite King's.

There is the impossible, eerie coincidences, the despair of reality & the promise of hope. This one is not a gory horror story. 11/22/63 is more about the suspense.

Thank you to Wensend and Fourth Street Review for hosting King's March. It has been quite an intoxicating experience dropping back into the world of King. I won't stay away so long this time...promise!

3 comments:

  1. Interesting thoughts Brona. I haven't read any King since I stalled on reading The Stand back in the 80s. Generally I'm not interested, this title did vaguely interest me, but I probably won't get to reading it anytime soon. I didn't know that there were so many connections between many of his stories.

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    1. I usually waver between thinking all the connections are mind-blowing, clever bonuses for the fans to thinking it's all a conceited wank!! Depends on how much I'm enjoying the story.

      The Stand is one of my all time favourite King's although there are sections that stretch the friendship.

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  2. I loved 11/22/63 and it can certainly point to my renewed interest in King's works. Unfortunately, I don't pick up on as many of the connections - Derry is probably the only one I recognize! I don't know if that means my memory is poor or if I just haven't read enough of the books, in the right order.

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